Career in Law | Blog

How Many Training Contracts Should I Apply For?

Whether you applying for law training contracts or even vacation schemes, deciding how many law firms you should be applying to remains a tough decision to make for many of you. Here's our take on how you should approach and make this important decision to maximize your chances of success. 

Research the firms

The starting point for you should be to research a list of firms and narrow down your list to firms that you are able to offer what these firms are looking for. If you do not narrow down your list accordingly, chances are that some or all of your applications will be a complete waste of time. The rule is simple - focus your efforts on firms that you can offer sufficient relevant skills and attributes.

Avoid the scattergun approach 

Use your common sense when it comes to the number of applications you sent. Obviously, if you sent 100s of applications it is unlikely that you will have given the right amount care and attention on each of those applications due to the time commitment each application requires. Use your time wisely and focus on a handful of very strong applications as opposed to 10s of average ones. According to Paul Gascoyne Graduate Recruitment Manager at Shearman & Sterling 50 applications in one go is far too many.

Do you meet the standard requirements?

When deciding on the number of applications you should make, you must be realistic about meeting the standard criteria set by these firms. For instance, if you do not have the required university or A level grades unless you have good reasons to explain this shortcoming, you will probably need to widen your search beyond large city firms.

What is the magic number?

The short answer is there is no sweet spot when it comes to the number of training contract application you should make. Ultimately, the number will depend on many factors including your personal profile and career aims. For instance, if you meet the standard criteria and have sufficient experience to back up your interest in a commercial law firm, you may find that 5-10 applications may get you an interview. Conversely, if your work experience is limited or your education grades are somewhat inconsistent, you may find that you need more than 20 applications before you secure a training contract interview.

Don't give up

The process of obtaining a training contract is very competitive, so do not be surprised if you have done 30 applications and you have not yet secured a training contract. It is not uncommon for someone to go through 40+ applications before striking success. While it can be deeply disheartening to be rejected so many times, don't give up and look at ways to bounce back from training contract rejections. However, If you have been through 40+ applications and not secured one interview, it may be advisable you take a step back for a moment to analyze where you are going wrong before you dive back into training contract applications.


In summary, the number of applications you will need to make as demonstrated above will very much depend on your individual circumstances as well as on your overall strategy. One thing is for certain that more applications are not the quick route to getting a training contract, and in fact, it could have the opposite effect.  


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger



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